Outlook India | 15 February 2023
India UK free trade agreement: Next round of FTA talks to be held in March
The next round of negotiations for the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the UK is scheduled from March 20-24, commerce secretary Sunil Barthwal said on Wednesday. Barthwal said that talks are progressing and it was closed for 13 chapters.
After the eight round of talks in March, it could be assessed that how many more rounds would happen and how much more time the talks would take to conclude.
The last round of talks were concluded on February 10.
India and the UK launched negotiations for the FTA in January last year with an aim to conclude talks by Diwali (October 24), but the deadline was missed due to political developments in the UK.
There are 26 chapters in the agreement, which include goods, services, investments and intellectual property rights.
Reduction or elimination of customs duty under the pact would help Indian labour intensive sectors like textiles, leather, and gems and jewellery to boost exports in the UK market.
The UK is seeking duty concessions in areas like Scotch whiskey and automobiles.
About the trade pact with European Union (EU), Joint Secretary in the department of commerce Nidhi Mani Tripathi said that the commerce secretary and EU’s Director General (Trade) will meet in August to review the progress of the talks.
Both have met last on January 24. The fourth round of talks for negotiations is scheduled from March 13-17. Both sides have agreed to discuss and finalise modalities for exchange of offer in goods and services during the fourth round of talks.
When asked about the new foreign trade policy, the secretary said that work is going on and it will be released in April.
On cutting down non-essential imports, he said the ministry is holding meetings with different departments on this issue.
"We are also sharing data with them," he added. The government had extended the existing Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) till March 31, 2023.
FTP provides guidelines for enhancing exports to push economic growth and create jobs.